The Archbishop of Canterbury has turned down an invitation to be a patron of the RSPCA.
A spokeswoman for Lambeth Palace said it was because The Most Rev Justin Welby has "reluctantly decided to restrict his patronage".
His predecessor, Dr Rowan Williams, was vice-patron of the animal charity, which was founded by an Anglican priest in 1824.
The spokeswoman said: "Since taking office in March this year, the Archbishop has received many kind invitations to patron a large variety of charities and good causes.
"Each invitation has been an honour, and in an ideal world he would like to accept them all.
"However, in light of the sheer volume of the requests the Archbishop receives ... he has reluctantly decided to restrict his patronage to a manageable number of organisations, based on where he feels his support could be most beneficial.
"Nevertheless, the Archbishop has enormous admiration for the RSPCA and hopes to see its work thrive long into the future."
Last year the RSPCA was heavily criticised after it spent £326,000 on legal action against a fox hunt.
Critics claimed the "staggering" expense of bringing the prosecution against the Heythrop Hunt in the Cotswolds was a waste of money donated by supporters.